New Freshman Forum course provides students with a closer look at STEAM careers

Shaler Area students are getting an in-depth look at STEAM through a new pilot course at the high school.

In the 2015-16 school year, Shaler Area piloted the STEAM Freshman Forum course with close to 60 students, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math careers and skills.

Every Shaler Area ninth-grader is required to take a semester-long Freshman Forum class which provides an orientation to the high school, study skills, guidance and career focus. In addition to preparing students for high school, the STEAM Freshman Forum focuses on the relationship of the STEAM fields through project-based learning and guest speakers.

“There is such a significant opportunity for future employment in the STEAM fields that we feel obligated to guide our children to those interests,” said Tim Royall, Shaler Area High School principal. “Fifty percent of those jobs require a college degree or apprenticeship, so providing them with career readiness and college readiness skills is imperative.”

The course is co-taught by Paul Sorby, business education teacher; Bryan Seybert, chemistry teacher; and Greg Mason, physics teacher, and is part of a more focused emphasis on STEAM across the district.

One of the project-based learning opportunities for students in the STEAM Freshman Forum has been a semester-long project to create a Rube Goldberg-type contraption.

On Dec. 11, three freshmen from the STEAM Freshmen Forum class will represent Shaler Area in the Chain Reaction Contraption Contest at the Carnegie Science Center. The contest is sponsored by Westinghouse Electric Company and presented in cooperation with the Carnegie Science Center and the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Freshmen Emma Truscott, Lydia Valentine and Taya McCullough won the in-house competition and will represent the school district this Friday.

Students were tasked with creating a contraption that was to “tell a story” and had to be 20 steps with a run-time of at least 30 seconds. The Shaler Area students’ contraption tells the story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Lydia Valentine said the project challenged the students’ problem-solving skills and encouraged teamwork and collaboration.

“There was a lot of learning by trial and error because if one step doesn’t work you have to change everything,” she said.

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1800 Mt. Royal Boulevard     Glenshaw, PA. 15116     P 412-492-1200     F 412-492-1236
1800 Mt. Royal Boulevard Glenshaw, PA. 15116 P 412-492-1200 F 412-492-1236
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